Procedures for a Planned Home Death

Dying persons have the right to choose to die at home, surrounded by their loved ones.

Individuals and their families, whose choice is a planned home death can expect that their wishes will be respected, and they will receive support and coordinated care.

A planned home death is a situation where an individual has chosen to die at home, and the death is expected and deterioration to death occurs in its anticipated sequence.

Decision making for a planned home death should be a collaborative process giving primary consideration to what is in the best interest of the patient and family, and involve the patient/family, family physician, nursing personnel and others as needed.

Discuss the option of in-home death with your physician and make a plan with your family physician, so you are clear about what will happen, and family/friends will know what to do at the time of death.

Your plan will include:

  • Who will pronounce the death;
  • How your physician can be reached;
  • What alternative arrangements have been made should your physician be unavailable and cannot be reached; and
  • Which funeral home should be called to transport the deceased.

The patient’s wishes should be clarified by signing a Do Not Resuscitate form.

Make prearrangements with a funeral home: such arrangements will normally involve selecting the funeral home and making plans with the funeral director for transportation of the deceased after death and the options available for final disposition.

Communicate in writing your plan to family, friends and others, such as your spiritual advisor, so they may support your decisions and respect your wishes.

Planned Home Deaths are Anticipated Events

When the death occurs …

Do not call 911, the ambulance, police or fire department.

Call family, friends and the spiritual advisor you would like to have present.

Call the physician to pronounce death. If your physician cannot be reached, call the backup physician or registered nurse. Prepare this form Notification of Expected Death in the Home in the event that no health professional is pronouncing the death.

Call the funeral home when you are ready. Each death is different and it can be a time of crisis or relative calm. It is not necessary to call immediately; take time to call the relatives and friends you want to be with you. Once the physician or other authorized person has been to your home and pronounced the death, and you feel ready, call the funeral home you have selected and arrange for the transfer.

There are communities in British Columbia without physicians who live in the community and without a funeral home. It is essential that these situations be discussed by the patient, family and physician and an appropriate plan suitable for the community be made in advance.

Planned Home Death Resources can be located in the following documents.

Joint Protocol For Expected / Planned Home Deaths in British Columbia

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